Phonesthesia - No wonder Levin likes to talk

Golan Levin likes to talk. His presentation lasted for nearly three hours, covering a historical overview of 'audiovisuality and interactivity' as well as a comprehensive presentation of his work since 1998.

I was thoroughly distracted from what could have been a gruelling experience by the dynamism and sensuality of the ideas and the work presented.
<< from Audio Visual Environment Suites

This work, done at MIT and Carnegie Mellon Universities in the USA, falls somewhere between software development, research into human interaction and art. He identifies his main focus as developing new interface metaphors where he explores "dynamic, audiovisual substance, gesturally created and manipulated".

Levin reminds us of the recent merging of Adobe and Macromedia and tells us of the importance for him of programming his own software to generate his interfaces. "If you use the same software as everyone else you find yourself dealing with the affordances of these softwares" and the danger of this is that your work starts to look much the same as the same as others using the software.

Apparently Jackon Pollock used to spend hours in front of Thomas Wilfred's Clavilux- an early system for kinetic colour projection. Levin's work is American abstract expressionism in interactive media. It is aesthetically distinct and, from one project to the next, remains stimulatingly unlike anything else I've seen. This work is very well resourced (which is one of the few things he doesn't talk about) and very ambitious in scale and range.

Towards the end of the show he played a clip of Messa Di Voce , an audiovisual performance & Installation for voice and interactive media made in collaboration with Zach Lieberman. The software extends the gestural language of the interface to explore phonesthesia, a speach visualisation system.

The interplay between spikey, jerky howls and shouts of abstract vocalists Jaap Blonk and Joan La Barbara and the resulting animal visual projections, is virtuosic and at the same time reminiscent of the Clangers, which is a good thing.


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